My husband wants to leave me – how can I make him stay?
Last night, I received an email from a wife who told me that she felt “her time was running out.” Her husband had confided in her that he was considering leaving home in the short term and perhaps leaving the relationship in the long term. This terrified the wife. The relationship had always been somewhat volatile. But, they had always found a way to work things out. They had broken up and gotten back together several times before, but somehow she always knew they would reconcile and get back together eventually.
This time things felt different to her and more final. Her husband seemed very determined to leave and move on. The wife wanted my advice on what she could do to get him to change his mind or for her to “stay.” I felt strongly that she needed to stop the cycle of volatile behavior. She wasn’t helping at all. In fact, he was probably only making things worse. I will discuss more about this matter in the next article.
Is there anything you can do to “make it stay”?:It was pretty clear to me that the wife wanted me to tell her some magical secret or give her a perfect letter that would drastically and quickly change her husband’s mind. I have to tell you that if things like this existed, she would have found them and then used them when my own marriage was in real trouble. The truth is that there is no quick fix, but there are permanent and lasting solutions, which may take a little longer but will work much better and much more permanently.
There are many things you can do to influence your decision to stay. But I think it’s a big mistake to expect or think that you can control someone or “make” someone do what you want them to do. I took this stance too and it was the biggest mistake I ever made. Men do not like the suggestion that they are not themselves or that they are not in control of their own thoughts and desires. Implying otherwise suggests a certain amount of disrespect, and no one wants to feel like their spouse thinks they know better, can make better decisions, or can control their own thought process.
So if that’s the route you’re taking, I strongly hope you can reconsider this. At the very least, try to look at this objectively and assess whether this tactic has really brought you closer to what you really want. And I’m pretty sure when I say that what you really want is probably a healthy, stable, growing relationship that you both participate in equally and fully.
Because what have you really gained if you manipulate, blame or trick your husband into staying when deep down he doesn’t want to? Sure, he’s still there physically. But, he’s certainly not there emotionally. And, it’s only a matter of time, probably, when I revisit these problems. As soon as stress sets in and starts to affect the relationship (and it almost always does), it’s likely to start all over again. And, the next time, he will have to act even more drastically and try much harder to regain control again. This is not the best cycle to be on.
Strategies to convince him that you really want to stay:In my experience, when you’re in this opposite cycle, your husband will want to do the exact opposite of what you want him to do. So the more you pressure him to stay, the more he will want to leave. It’s best not to let your fear of him push you to act in a way that is beneath you. We have all pleaded, threatened, reasoned, and belittled for him to stay. We have all heard those very embarrassing phrases that come out of our mouths and yet we just can’t seem to stop and keep going.
These are the things I didn’t want my reader to do. He wanted her to take the opposite strategy. He wanted her to tell him that maybe she was right. Maybe some time apart would do them good. You could take some time apart with both of you “giving each other space” without the need to leave. She could visit friends or they could both visit friends or he could leave like she said she was going to.
Of course, the wife did not like these suggestions. They meant that she couldn’t control her husband and watch her every move. She was afraid that once she let him go, even for a little while, he would never come back to her. Basically, she was afraid that he would find out that she liked being alone or that she would meet someone else and that would be the end of her relationship.
What many of us fail to see in these situations is that if we don’t make some changes, the relationship is likely to end anyway, either in the future or in the short term. The key to feeling secure in the relationship is knowing that you both really want to be there and you will never have this peace of mind if you know that he really wants to leave but that he was tricked into staying.
You’d be much better off making it clear that you want to save the marriage, but that you also want him to be happy, and support his efforts to make this happen. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’ll get the most out of your break, too. You’re probably wondering why you had such an abrupt and dramatic change of heart. This will sometimes help you get their attention. When this happens, you want to make sure you introduce the woman you want her to see.
Because you already know the woman he wants to see. You are the best of her, when you laugh and flirt and don’t hold too tight or worry too much. You are the happy and lucky person who first caught her eye. Think for a second about how often you see this same person. Because she is the person you need to see regularly right now. And she is not afraid, not threatening, not clinging, not crying. She is in control of herself because she knows that he loves her and that you can work this out. She’s your best chance to make this work. So don’t dismiss and become who you know you really aren’t.
Once you’ve got their attention, you’ll eventually need to make some changes in the relationship. But this should not be attempted until you are stable in the relationship once again.